Both Mudhoney and Sub Pop turned 25 years old in 2013.
They celebrated by having Mudhoney play a live show on Seattle’s iconic Space Needle. Not IN the Space Needle, mind you. ON TOP OF the Space Needle. Like, as in on the roof of a revolving restaurant on top of a tower built for the 1962 World’s Fair. Fortunately this show wasn’t open to the public, because if there’s one thing that defines Mudhoney’s Seattle shows it’s stage diving. Which could be dangerous on top of a revolving restaurant tower.
The limited edition vinyl Record Store Release (2,700 produced) of On Top! KEXP Presents Mudhoney Live On Top Of The Space Needle was at the top of my want list for RSD. And I knew there was no way I was going to get my hands on a copy without getting up stupid early or getting stupid lucky. I was neither. This was simply a record you weren’t going to get here in Seattle without serious commitment. So I’d already resigned myself to the reality that is eBay, and I had no trouble getting a copy using the “buy it now” feature that same day for about a $20 premium over retail. I know people hate this aspect of RSD, and to some extent I do too. But if someone is willing to show up that early to get a copy, so be it. I’ll either pay the premium in the secondary market or I won’t. Usually I don’t. This time I did. And I’m glad.
On Top! is an impressive live recording considering it was done (1) outdoors, (2) about 600 feet above the city, and (3) rotating. But since KEXP was Johnny on the spot and made arrangements to record it, I knew it would be good. Nay, great. At 10 songs and just under 30 minutes Mudhoney played a concise, tight set… one that probably only saw them spin 180 degrees on top of the Space Needle’s restaurant.
The set was a combination of old and new. Half the songs were off of the band’s 2013 release Vanishing Point, while they filled the rest by digging into their catalog, including 1991s “Into the Drink” and the seminal, grunge-defining classic “Touch Me I’m Sick,” a song guaranteed to make a Seattle crowd go nuts and start to jump off the nearest obstacle. Mudhoney weaves the old and the new together into a tight, intense set, one that does a pretty solid job in capturing their live energy, even more so than the recently released Live At Third Man Records (which inexplicably is missing “Touch Me I’m Sick”…).
I slowly find myself becoming more and more of a fan of Mudhoney over the years. Maybe they remind me of a simpler time in my life. Or maybe I just like the sound of Mark Arm’s voice. I don’t know. Regardless, On Top! has a good chance of making it onto my year-end Top 5 list. It’s not on iTunes or CD… at least not yet. So for now, I feel sorry for those of you who got rid of your turntables back in the day…